How to Knot Your Grandfather’s Tie

How To Tie A Bow Tie

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Last Updated on May 26, 2022 by Steal the Style

The bow tie has adorned the necks of many notable figures throughout history including Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, and Donald Duck.  In spite of its noble past, it has often been dismissed as the wardrobe choice of stuffy old men, prep school snobs, and butlers.  Today the traditional necktie continues to dominate in menswear sales, but thanks to a whole new generation of high profile enthusiasts – the bow tie is making a spectacular comeback.

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Hipsters and celebrities alike have embraced the bow tie – everyone from rapper Kanye West to Indie filmmaker Wes Anderson has been photographed wearing this quirky fashion accessory.  No need to wait for a formal occasion to try one out. These days it’s considered an incredibly versatile choice of attire, just as acceptable in the coffee shop as it is at the Academy Awards.

Fit to be Bow-Tied?

Interested in bow tie fashion, but not confident you know the right way to wear them?  Relax, anyone can do it.  In fact, it seems that the only rule of wearing a bow tie is that there are no rules, but here are a few tips:

  • A bow tie looks great with a sport coat, but it can also be worn with a leather jacket, a brightly colored sweater vest or cardigan.  Or opt for a retro chic look and simply pair it with suspenders.
  • Have fun with your bow tie — dare to wear a patterned tie with bold, electric colors like NBA all star Dwayne Wade.  And remember, your tie doesn’t have to match your shirt. Clashing is perfectly acceptable in the bow tie world.
  • Spice up the classic.  While the traditional bow tie is typically made of silk or cotton, modern designers have branched out into many fabrics including leather, and denim.  Always keep a few classics in your collection, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Try before you buy.  Bow ties vary in width – you want to make sure yours fits your frame.  If your tie is too large, you risk looking like a ‘70s cartoon character. (unless that’s what you’re going for, of course)
  • Hello Ladies.  A far cry from the tie clad Playboy Bunnies of Hugh Hefner’s era, powerful female performers like Janelle Monáe, Carrie Underwood and Beyoncé Knowles have popularized the tuxedo-inspired look for women — making the bow tie a must have accessory for the female wardrobe too.
  • Prepare for the stare. Ultimately, the bow tie is a fashion statement that burns itself into the memory of the observer, much like a mustache.  Once you wear one, you will be remembered for it – for better or for worse.  So embrace your place as one of the few, the proud, the bow tie wearers.

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Tie One On (Instructions)

Let’s face it, the hardest part about wearing a bow tie is actually tying it.  As complicated as it may seem, it’s an awful lot like tying your shoelaces.  Here are some simple instructions:

  • Drape the tie around your neck, pulling one side an inch to two inches lower.
  • Bring the longer side over the shorter side, and loop it underneath and up – making a simple knot around your neck.
  • Bring the shorter side over itself to form the bow shape, leaving the long half laying flat underneath.
  • Loop that longer half over the center of the bow shape you just made.  Holding the bow in place, you then pull that longer end up through the loop and behind the folded end.
  • Adjust as needed.


Practice makes perfect, be patient and keep at it.  Still don’t get it?  YouTube is an excellent resource with many video tutorials on the art of tying a bow tie.  If you need in-person instruction, hit up the salesperson in the menswear section of your local department store for a lesson.

How To Tie A Bow Tie

How To Tie A Bow Tie